Fitness guru Ashley Black’s signature tool may be currently best known as a woman’s answer for eliminating cellulite, but as she explains, she created the FasicaBlaster to work on the oversized thighs of hulking NFL lineman during her days as a manual therapist. Black’s unique-looking recovery device even became embraced by several Yankee players before it launched globally.
“Ninety percent of my clientele were men,” Black says. “I’m like, 5-foot-2, so you can imagine the challenge it was to try and get to a lineman’s hamstring. I would spend close to two hours trying to open the fascia. I was like, we’ve got to come up with a better way.”
The cellulite-crushing element? An additional, albeit accidental, benefit for the FasciaBlaster.
“It sort of morphed into something else,” Black admits. “When you can cure cellulite, women tend to get excited about that, so that’s sort how that started.”
The FasciaBlaster may look more like a coat rack, but performs unlike any foam-rolling or drill-like recovery tools on the market, says Black, who among her sports clientele included Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre. With just a little back and forth maneuvering (after a good amount of oil rubbed onto the skin), the FasciaBlaster’s “claws” opens the body’s fascia, layer by layer, until all the “chunks” are broken up, pretty ideal for optimal athletic movement. And part of the reason why the FasciaBlaster has sold more than a million worldwide.
I love some of the other tools on the market,” Black says. “But their intentions are totally different. They’re not there to break up fascial adhesions. Most are more oriented for knots. “All of the tools on the market, none of them do what the fascia blaster does.”
It was close to a decade ago when Black began using her manual therapy expertise — and introduced the FasciaBlaster to several Yankee players, including former third baseman Travis Hafner. Not bad timing, she says, considering the original FasciaBlaster was a shade of Yankee blue. The reviews from the players were overwhelmingly positive, which provided her the opportunity to show it to the Yankee captain himself.
“To be honest, Derek Jeter thought I was crazy when I showed him it,” Black admits. “I met him in Tampa when he was rehabbing an injury. But because I worked with a lot of his teammates, he was like, OK, I’ll give it a shot.”
Her method was so effective in helping the players’ on-field performance, several players (Jeter not included) offered her a hefty sum to go on the road with them as their personal therapist. At the same time, though her FasciaBlaster was launching, so, confident in her product, she had to make a tough decision. A million sales later, she made the right decision
“I had to turn down the offer,” she says. “But I think it speaks a lot about how passionate athletes are if something works to help them perform better and prevent injury. They’ll do whatever it takes to get the treatment.
What is fascia and how does the FasciaBlaster work as a massage tool?
Fascia can be best described as a “wetsuit-like” layer of connective tissue that wraps around every muscle, joint and organ in your body.
There are three layers of fascia: Superficial (or structural) is found just underneath the skin. It stores fat and water and acts as a passageway for lymph, nerve and blood vessels. It also acts as a protective padding to cushion and insulate. Deep fascia is most commonly known as that layer that gets worked worked on by a manual therapist. And deeper than deep fascia, visceral fascia holds your organs in place.
To use the FasciaBlaster properly, you must, Black advises, apply a generous layer of oil (that comes with the package) onto the skin before before beginning the FasciaBlaster “glide.” (Without the oil, think about your worst rope burn. Then think twice about not using oil). Then “glide” it quickly but relatively gently in a back and forth direction without “digging” the claws into the skin. For a quick warmup to get the nervous system firing before a workout, Black suggests about 10 minutes should do the trick. For a deeper massage, she suggest going longer.
“The beautiful thing is, not everyone has access to me, but at least you can get at least 80 percent of the treatment by doing it yourself,” she says.
To use the FasciaBlaster effectively, Black suggests these tips.
1. Read the instructions: “I’ve seen people grab it and try to actually massage with it—like, digging in as if they were using their fingers or elbows. Glide it back and forth. Maybe first have to understand fascia.”
2. Don’t dig into the skin. The technique is to do it very fast and light and have if open naturally.
3. Don’t work it over clothes: Nothing bad will happen, Black says. “You’re just not going to get the results. “Think about your clothes clinging like Saran wrap. The purpose of bare skin is that when the first layer begins to open, the claws can penetrate. Clothing is like a shield.
4 (optional). Use it with a partner. Although not in the instructional manual, applying the accompanying FasciaBlaster massage oil onto a partner’s skin may open up more than just fascia. “I became an accidental marriage counselor,” Black says with a laugh. “I’ve had people tell us that the FasciaBlaster has brought us closer together.”